Saturday, October 22, 2016

NJPW Road to Power Struggle 10/21/16 Review

NJPW Road to Power Struggle
October 21st, 2016 | Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan

The last major show for NJPW in 2016 is right around the corner (the World Tag League is a series of lesser shows mostly) and this is the first “Road to” event. It features the beginning of the Super Jr. Tag Team Tournament, which was won last year by Matt Sydal and Ricochet, a team that isn’t even in this year thanks to Sydal being a dummy and Ricochet’s VISA issues. reDRagon and Kenny Omega have moved up to heavyweights, and there is no Chase Owens or Alex Shelley this year. Instead, we have some teams from other promotions in Japan, which is greatly appreciated.

TenKoji and Yuji Nagata def. Hirai Kawato, Teruaki Kanemitsu and Tomoaki Honma in 9:02
THE NEW JAPAN DADS! They took on Tomoaki Honma and two of the young lions. As expected, the crowd was red hot for the veterans, while the young guys brought a lot of fire. This was about the young guys since Honma kept getting knocked off of the apron. They took a beating that the dads were more than happy to give out. After some back and forth, Nagata survived a Boston crab and things broke down. Honma ate a Koji Cutter before Kawato tapped to Nagata’s own Boston crab. Fun, predictable opener. The crowd was hot and the young lions worked hard. I can’t ask for much more.**½

Manabu Nakanishi and YOSHITATSU def. Bone Soldier and Yujiro Takahashi via disqualification in 8:26
With Captain New Japan now playing Bone Solider I have to wonder who will eat the pins in Tanahashi multi-man tags from now on? Poor Juice Robinson. This stems from YOSHITATSU, a scrub in his own right, being upset with CNJ being the bigger scrub of their team. This just dragged on for far too long and nothing seemed to happen at all. After an eternity, Bone Soldier began to choke YOSHITATSU with his belt and shoved the referee, resulting in the rare NJPW disqualification. Oh go to hell. If they were just gonna do a DQ, why the hell did I have to sit through so much of this? Pure garbage. DUD

Hirooki Goto, IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI def. Chase Owens, Kenny Omega and IWGP Tag Team Champions The Guerillas of Destiny in 9:38
Take a look at Omega’s partners here. You see them? Now you know why I say such negative things about this stable. This worked as a Tokyo Dome preview for Omega and Okada, though people suspect Ishii and Goto are going to win the World Tag League and earn a Tag Title shot at WK 11, where GOD could still be champions. Also, Ishii and YOSHI get a title shot at Power Struggle. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it as we near Wrestle Kingdom but the Chaos vs. Bullet Club feud is beyond played out, even if some of the parts change around. The story of this was Omega playing cat and mouse to avoid Okada, only getting in cheap shots. Owens and Goto barely did anything and this entire match mostly previewed the upcoming Tag Title defense, which was fine. YOSHI pinned Owens after hitting Karma. Like I said, this was fine and nothing more. **¾

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion BUSHI, EVIL, SANADA and IWGP Intercontinental Champion Tetsuya Naito def. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson, NEVER Openweight Champion Katsuyori Shibata and Togi Makabe in 10:44
This helped build towards EVIL vs. Shibata at Power Struggle, while also giving us an early look at the expected Tokyo Dome IC Title match between Naito and Tanahashi. LIDJ did some of their classic dirty heel stuff and we got some brawling around the ring. Shout out to Makabe who actually worked hard and took bumps in this one. This was a lot of the stuff you’ve come to expect in NJPW multi-man tags, but with more energy and enjoyment than the previous one. After the signature move barrage in the end, Naito put down Juice with Destino. Good energy, big efforts from Juice and Togi and LIDJ continue to shine in every aspect. ***¼

Will Ospreay def. David Finlay in 10:22
The guy who won the Best of the Super Juniors against one of the MVPs of that tournament. This was originally going to be Finlay and Ricochet against Ospreay and Gedo but that has been pushed back due to the VISA issues for Ricochet. I’m interested in this singles match for sure though. Will’s new hair is just not a good look. Once this started, it was a really solid bout. Finlay had the advantage in the power department, which was a nice change of pace for him. It forced Ospreay to adapt, which I liked. They had a really good back and forth match. It was nice because I expected Ospreay to be in control but Finlay got to shine. After some good near falls, Ospreay won with the Oscutter. Right up there with the previous tag for the match of the night to this point. Ospreay was good as usual and I love that Finlay gets openings (the injuries that put in the BOTJ and Sydal’s issue that now has him as one third of the NEVER Tag Champions) and delivers. ***¼

Super Jr. Tag Team Tournament First Round
Roppongi Vice def. Angel de Oro and Titan in 13:02

So glad we get some non-NJPW talent in this tournament this year. Roppongi Vice have been teasing some tension and issues over the past few months. Romero spent time in Mexico and looked comfortable with the CMLL guys. While on offense, Romero seemed to be talking to Beretta and asking if he was impressed. Titan and Oro just flew around the ring and really impressed. I’d be cool with an extended run in NJPW for one of these guys. De Oro avoided a Beretta knee strike in a cool way before he got on Titan’s shoulders on the top. They both then jumped off onto Roppongi Vice on the outside. Shortly after though, Beretta hit the knee and won with the Dudebuster. Titan and Oro were great here and this was the best thing on the show so far. RPG Vice looked motivated and this was really fun. I would have put the exciting fresh team over to continue Roppongi Vice’s issues. ***½

Their issues did continue a bit as Rocky celebrated really hard despite Beretta doing all of the work down the stretch.

Super Jr. Tag Team Tournament First Round
Fuego and Ryusuke Taguchi def. Jushin Thunder Liger and Tiger Mask IV in 9:56

The team of Fuego and Taguchi seem like they’re all about having fun. They came out in matching entrance gear and danced for the crowd. I wouldn’t say that there was anything special about this match but it was mostly good fun. Taguchi and Fuego are here to entertain and they did just that, while Liger was his usual awesome self. Tiger Mask was kind of just there. Taguchi and his ass based offense ran wild for a while. In a surprising move, Taguchi made Liger tap to the ankle lock. I fully expected Tiger Mask to take the fall because he’s Tiger Mask. Interesting decision. The match itself was highlighted by Liger and Fuego. **¾

Super Jr. Tag Team Tournament First Round
ACH and Taiji Ishimori def. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks in 17:40

If you read my stuff on a regular basis, then you know my feelings on the Young Bucks. They won this tournament in 2013. Ishimori is all kinds of awesome though and ACH is really good. They won NOAH’s Jr. Tag League earlier this year but failed to dethrone Kotoge and Harada at the Super J-Cup Finals all so Momo No Seishun could drop the titles to Gedo and Jado. Good move NOAH. Anyway, onto the match. There was a fun battle of one upping each other between Nick and ACH in the early goings. Ishimori was the face in peril for a bit, with Matt not only cutting off a hot tag, but going to the apron and taunting him by asking for the tag. ACH’s hot tag run was pretty great. He impressed the crowd, though they still rooted for the more familiar Bucks. The Bucks kept ACH out of it for a while and really put a hurting on Ishimori. Ishimori survived it all until ACH got back involved. The NOAH guys missed stereo 450 splashes before ACH kicked out of one from Nick. ACH cut off the IndyTaker, leading to successful stereo 450 splashes and the upset win. The champions are out in the first round. This was my favorite Young Bucks tag match all year long. ACH and Ishimori have really good chemistry and could become my new favorite junior team now that reDRagon moved up. ACH could be poised for a breakout as he looks motivated in Japan in a way that he didn’t in ROH for most of the year. ***¾

Overall: 7/10. A fun “Road to” show. Everything outside of the horrible Bullet Club/YOSHITATSU tag was at least somewhat enjoyable. It was an enjoyable show that flew by, built towards Power Struggle well and even helped set up the Tokyo Dome show in January in some parts. The Super Jr. Tag Tournament delivered and the main event was damn good.